September 10, 2006
To prepare for the session, read all the readings:
Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these readings mean for you today. Was there a particular reading which appealed to you? Was there a word or image that engaged you?
Read the Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. These give you background on what you will be doing this session. Read over the session outline and make it your own. Check to see what materials you will need for the session.
The Word in Liturgy
The episode related in today’s gospel takes place in Gentile territory. The reasons for Jesus’ route are not altogether clear, but may suggest the universal scope of his preaching. The healing story itself, unique to Mark, is told in a typical structure: (1) illness described, (2) action of Jesus, (3) complete cure. It is nonetheless replete with mysterious details. Jesus takes the man aside to perform this healing, and afterwards tells him to keep it secret. The action of Jesus is highly physical: he sticks his fingers into the man’s ears, spits on his tongue, and emits a groan. Mark retains the Aramaic word ephphetha in a narrative that is otherwise written in Greek.
Despite its mysterious elements, the healing is not magic but a miracle pointing to the reign of God breaking upon humankind. The man could not have been born deaf, for he knows language and speaks immediately upon being healed. He was probably stricken with an illness that deprived him of hearing and impeded his speech. Some scholars regard Jesus’ insistence upon secrecy as a practical way to avoid being taken simply as a traveling wonder-worker. Others see in Mark’s “messianic secret” the suggestion that many of Jesus’ works could only be understood after the resurrection. Indeed, when news of the miracle spreads—as it does inevitably—its announcement is like a kerygmatic proclamation, similar to post-resurrection preaching.
The active pursuit of just relations socially and economically is imperative for all members of the Catholic community. Furthermore, our pursuit of justice must be informed ultimately by a love that moves us to a preferential option for the poor. This preferential option, inspired by Jesus’ teaching and his own example of poverty, is compatible with Catholic teaching that condemns the immoderate love of riches and their selfish use.